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10 Riders To Watch At The 2019 Cyclo-Cross World Championships

10 Riders To Watch At The 2019 Cyclo-Cross World Championships

This weekend is the pinnacle of the cyclocross
season – the UCI World Championships. The 2019 edition will be in Bogense in Denmark,
which previously hosted a World Cup back in 2017. The course promises to be fast and technical,
with a bridge connecting two sides of the harbour, which the organisers say will give
the race a “special touch”. Riders will race for their country as opposed
to their trade teams, Coming up are 10 riders who are fighting for the prestigious rainbow
jersey. Mathieu Van Der Poel
Topping our list is Mathieu Van Der Poel – unquestionably the most consistent performer in the elite
men’s category, and rightly a five star favourite for the world championships. He seems to be able to ride away from his
rivals seemingly at will, and his technical skills on a ‘cross bike are unsurpassed. The only thing standing in his way could be
his mind – for all his dominance, he’s not held the rainbow bands since 2015 – something
always seems to happen to him on the biggest race of the season. Will this be playing on his mind on Sunday? Or will he crush the field once more en route
to a 2nd Elite world title? Wout Van Aert
The nearest competitor to Van Der Poel is Wout Van Aert. It’s been a lean season for the reigning
world champion with regards to wins – only 5 thus far, and all of them have been without
Mathieu Van Der Poel on the startlist. He’s made no secret of his desire to focus
on the road in 2019, and his form on the cross circuit perhaps suggests that. With that said however, the Belgian is a master
of peaking for the Worlds – unlike Van Der Poel, Van Aert saves his very best until this
time of year, and while the gap in class between the two seems large, you can guarantee whatever
the result on Sunday, Wout will give the leaders a run for their money. Marianne Vos Vos’ name has rarely been seen on a cyclocross
startlist this season, but despite starting just 12 races so far (13 presumably after
the weekend?) she’s won seven and leads the world cup overall. Having suffered in the past with burnout from
too much racing, it seems that the decrease in racing has not affected her sharpness. However, the quality of the elite women’s
field runs very deep, and there are several riders that could get in the way of Vos’
bid for an unprecedented 8th cyclocross world title. Sanne Cant Looking to upset the Dutch applecart is defending
World Champion Sanne Cant. Unlike other riders on this list, Cant approaches
every season with a full focus on cyclocross, using a packed racing schedule to hold her
form throughout the year, and doing so with incredible consistency in her results. The Belgian has won 8 races this season, including
a 10th consecutive victory at the Belgian Nationals, a stat which underlines her ability
to perform week on week, year on year. She also possesses one of the most powerful
sprints in the field, so she’ll be happy to sit on a small group and let her rivals
fight to try and get rid of her. Toon Aerts
Toon Aerts has had a very solid season – starting with back-to-back World Cup wins in the USA
in September, he took advantage of a rare off day for Mathieu Van Der Poel to win the
Koppenbergcross in October and has managed to make the podium consistently through to
the end of January. In fact, his 2nd place in Hoogerheide, a result
which saw him clinch the World Cup top spot, was arguably one of his strongest – he matched
Van Der Poel for 5 out of 7 laps, a feat which few riders have achieved this season. The Belgian will no doubt be buoyed by a fantastic
victory at his national championships, and he’ll be eyeing a podium spot at the very
least on Sunday. Denise Betsema She was racing without a contract at the start
of the season, but after kicking off the winter with wins at the EKZ CrossTour and in Neerpelt,
Betsema signed with Marlux-Bingoal and has since gone on to take big victories at Scheldecross
and the World Cup round in Koksijde. It’s safe to say the Dutch will have strength
in numbers on Saturday. Jolanda Neff She’s a former Cross Country mountain bike
World Champion and has won multiple national titles in cyclocross and on the road, but
when Jolanda Neff lines up in Bogense on Saturday it will be her first opportunity to race for
a cyclocross world title. She’s picked up her ‘cross season in December,
and her results are impressive considering she’s had less than favourable grid position
for those early races. Since we turned the page to 2019, Neff has
been unstoppable, winning the GP Sven Nys and the EKZ Cross Tour in Meilen in the space
of a weekend, before taking the Swiss national title in frankly atrocious conditions. Balancing three disciplines this year could
mean that a top performance at the Worlds could be asking a lot, but she’s a rider
to keep your eye on at least, and will come into the race fresher than most. Lucinda Brand
Another rider trying to balance road and cyclocross ambitions is Lucinda Brand, and she’s managing
it very well. She had an incredible December in which she
recorded 4 wins, won the Dutch national title in January, before going away for a road training
camp with Team Sunweb in Spain and coming back to win the Hoogerheide World Cup. She might find her road speed comes in handy
on the fast Bogense circuit, and her form suggests she’ll be the woman to beat in
the Elite Women. Tom Pidcock
The prodigious Tom Pidcock will be the favourite for the Under 23 mens race at the World Championships
at just 19 years of age. He has spent this season testing his abilities
in the Elite categories of the SuperPrestige series and DVV Trophy, and has consistently
shown he’s already among the top 15 riders, while at the World Cup he’s won 4 out of
6 U23 races and has also scooped the European U23 title this season too. Despite his tender age, winning the British
National title signifies that it probably won’t be long before he starts mixing it
with the elites at the top level, but for now, he will focus his attention on the U23
rainbow bands in Bogense. Ceylin Del Carmen Alvarado
If Vos, Brand and Betsema represents ‘the present’ in Dutch cyclocross, then Ceylin
Del Carmen Alvarado is the future, will hope to go one better than last year’s Silver
medal in the U23 women’s race. It’s been a breakthrough season for the
Dominican-born 21 year old, taking the U23 european title and finally clinching her first
big elite category victory at the Brussels University cross on the 6th January. Dare we say, the U23 category might almost
be too easy for Alvarado now, but that won’t stop her in her bid for her first rainbow
jersey. Have we missed any? Let us know in the comments below, and join
us in getting excited for what is always a memorable weekend on the cycling calendar. To get a closer look at Mathieu Van Der Poel’s
European Champion ‘cross bike, click here.

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40 thoughts on “10 Riders To Watch At The 2019 Cyclo-Cross World Championships

  1. Worst (could be the surprise) and Compton in the womens – GCN covering anything live before or during the racing?

  2. Obviously covered it for the men with the exception of Vanthorenhout; you forgot Loes Sels, AnneMarie Worst and Majerus for the women. If MVP doesn't have a major mechanical it's his by a long way and the women are wide open, can't wait.

  3. Can't imagine MVDP not taking it this year. "Bad" day four years in a row!!??? Naaaa.. Jolanda Neff for the women, Thomas Pidcock for U23 men and obviously Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado for the ladies U23, She has no concurrence there. Juniors? Nobody knows, that's the fun of it but obviously, good genes are important in cyclocross so let's go for Nys junior.

  4. Katie Compton is in with a good shot for the podium. She has been below her level with some physical problems this year but came good for Hoogerheide in Sunday. If she is healthy a podium place would do justice to her talent and maybe even the top step.

  5. Compelling how many people consider Bieles as a lost championship for M VdP purely due to his bad luck with flat tyres. If you opt for the fastest cotton tyre whilst riding on sharp edges rocks, that’s what you get. Wout never appeared to be as fast that day, but keep in mind, he was riding a rougher compound that isn’t as fast. We will never know if M VdP would have been equally as fast that day with the same tyre. Wout actually has lost a championship to M VdP due to mechanical problems (chain kept falling off). What could Wout achieve more, he already won everything. Since 2 years he is shifting towards road cycling and that clearly and sadly affects his CX performance.

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